Thursday, November 8, 2007

Day Eight - 30 Creative Days Hath November

'tis The Season Already

When they finally finish the Human Genome Project and all of our genes have been mapped, named, catalogued, labeled and filed for reference, I know they're going to discover one they'll name "SH 01" -- the shopping gene. The reason I know this is I definitely do NOT have it. It must be located around the same strand of DNA as the herd or flock gene, because I don't have that one, either.

As Joni Mitchell sings, "It's coming on Christmas - they're cutting down trees - they're putting up reindeer..." which in truth means the beginning of Christmas shopping...and of course means the absolute impossibility of buying anything that isn't related to a witch hat or black cauldron for a Harry Potter party.

I do realize that Halloween was seven whole days ago, and I do know all about just-in-time inventory and the need to maximize retail shelf space to grab every consumer dollar, blah, blah, blah. I also know that with the advent of the megastores, there's no such thing as a dusty back room where merchandise that was popular a mere week ago can still be found.

Retailers have become ridiculous in their frantic anticipation of each holiday. Who can possibly be in the mood for Halloween stuff over the Labor Day weekend? You can bet that you'll see Valentine cards on the shelves by January 2nd and Easter candy on February 15th.

I have no idea where seasonal stuff now goes post-season. Probably with the lost socks, keys and earrings of the world -- into some black hole or 12th dimension physicists haven't yet discovered.

Am I the only person who has ever needed a witch hat the week after Halloween?

Come to think of it, I seem to spend a whole lot of time trying to find things that have their own unique sales period and which then vanish from the material world afterwards... things like a swimsuit in January or cozy bedroom slippers in July.

I've thought for years that a chain named "Procrastinations" would be a good idea -- a place where you could go and actually find a sweater in mid-summer or a beach bag before Easter. Even living on the California coast (where you really NEED a sweater in the summer and have some of the warmest, beachiest days in March,) it's impossible to find items considered by Midwestern chain store marketers to be seasonal.

I'm old enough to remember the home-grown hardware stores, the independent department stores, the "drug stores" with the real soda fountain and no music overhead -- those institutions that have gone to their collective grave, buried by you-know-who and here-comes-what.

I remember the grownup clerks who actually worked in one store for longer than a Christmas season, knew where to find stuff, counted change into your hand the old-fashioned way and actually said "thank you" to a customer. I'm sure one of THEM would have offered to look in their spidery cellar for a witch hat and cauldron a week after Halloween, instead of flashing their employee badge at me and saying, "it's my first day, I dunno." Good old Mabel or Harvey probably would have found them, too.

We're paying $3.48/gallon here now for regular gas, ($3.65 for premium) -- and at those prices and with all the aggravation that Christmas shopping causes a genetically-challenged non-shopper, I'm pretty sure I'm going to get to know my UPS guy very well this season.

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